So many people want to give entering competitions or receiving a free samples a try but won’t because they are too scared. What are they scared of though? It is simple…they are scared of getting spammed.
Spam is such a big thing nowadays – we receive spam emails into our inbox, spam text messages to our phone and even spam phone calls letting us know that we’ve been in a car accident and that we are entitled to some money. All of this is spam and quite often they can be scams too – so it is important to be wary about them. But how do they get our data? Through different companies selling it on. We might like to think our personal data is safe but sometimes when we are sharing it with a company we trust, we don’t realise that they are going to sell our details on for a fee. So how can we avoid getting spammed? Here are some top tips to keep you from getting overwhelmed with junk emails and texts.
Use a Second email When Signing up for Things
Some people create an email address simply for competitions and freebies and only sign up using this email, leaving their main email free from any potential spam. Others actually create a throwaway email address through a site such as Throwaway Mail – this would work well for free samples and instant win competitions but probably wouldn’t be the best idea for other competitions as the email may cease to exist before the competition ends and you could lose out on the prize! It is totally up to you what you do but a separate email address is always handy.
Take Advantage of Free SIM Cards
Use a free sample to get free samples! So many network providers offer free SIMs to consumers so why not take advantage and grab one for yourself? Then you can use this number on forms which absolutely require a phone number – this way your real daily use phone number won’t be a potential target for spam.
You can get free sims from the following networks:
One thing to be aware of with these free sim cards is that you will need to put credit on them and keep them active or risk having them deactivated. So whilst they’re free to receive you will need to top them up with a token £5 or £10 (depending on the network).
The best one we’ve found is actually O2 – whilst you need to purchase a minimum of £10 when getting the sim the credit lasts forever, you just need to make a call every 6 months to keep your number active. I have one which was set up 7 years ago and still going strong off the initial £10.
Ask to be put on Restricted Lists
Some companies who provide home phone plans will enable you to go on some form of restricted list meaning that only certain calls can make it through. This may be handy if you are in fear of being spammed as you know that only certain people can actually get through to you. Some people may choose to go ex directory to reduce spam but if you have given out your number, being ex directory won’t do anything to help that.
If you are continually getting spammed and you are fed up, make a complaint. If you are getting spam emails and you’ve unsubscribed, sent them to spam and yet you are still receiving them, you can complain to your email provider for still letting them through and also make a complaint against the company for not taking you off the list when you unsubscribed. If you are still receiving such emails after unsubscribing or after asking the sender to stop, then make a complaint to the ICO. They are responsible for enforcement in this area – you can ring their helpline on 03031231113 or visit their website.
It is important to know what a company can and can’t do. As mentioned above, a company cannot keep sending you emails after you have unsubscribed – they no longer have your permission to email you which means they are breaking the law. If you haven’t given your permission in the first place and they keep emailing you, they are already breaking the law and it would be wise to let the ICO know about this too – but never forward your spam emails to the ICO – just let them know the details.
When providing information to an organisation, it is important to check the terms and conditions. Most companies are trustworthy and won’t sell on your data; some will be completely underhand and do it behind your back but some do happen to make mention of it in their terms and conditions so read them fully before agreeing to anything.
In regards to information sharing, certain information can be shared without your consent. In this instance, the information sharing will be reasonable and expected – but why it is being shared and who with should be clear. However if the information is more sensitive or perhaps even confidential, then companies do need your consent. You do have a legal right to know what information is being held about you and how to access it. You can also ask someone to stop sharing your information – but they only have to do so if it is causing you distress or damage.
Hopefully these tips help you in avoiding spam – hopefully your inboxes, texts and calls are free from spam from now on. Be careful with what boxes you are ticking and be sure to keep these tips in mind in order to reduce the potential spam to an absolute minimum – ensure you know exactly what you are signing up to.
Main image credit: Mike Mozart